Hearing Voices May Just Be That
When you think about it, history is full of people who say they heard voices. Mohammed, Moses, Abraham, Joan of Arc. They all claimed to hear the voice of God. Disembodied voices also dwelled within the minds of Socrates, William Blake, John Milton.
These are the kind of names that invite us to romanticize the idea of hearing voices.
But today, to say you hear voices invites something entirely different: A diagnosis of mental illness.
Well, there is a new movement that’s vigorously pushing back against the notion that those who hear voices are sick. It’s called the Hearing Voices Network. It began in the U.K. but has come to the United States, and one of the first American chapters was founded right here in Massachusetts.
The growth of the Hearing Voices Network raises many important questions:
Such as, what is a mental illness, versus what is not?
What is objective reality, versus what is not?
What is simply normal and human, versus what is not?
And what are the consequences, positive AND negative, when people who hear voices step away from traditional psychiatric care?
Lisa Forestell, interim assistant director, Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community; facilitator, Hearing Voices Network
Gail Horstein, professor of psychology, Mt. Holyoke College; co-founded, Hearing Voices Networks in the United States
Dr. Dost Ongur, clinical director, Psychotic Disorders Division at McLean Hospital; assistant professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School